Derek Warwick is spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing his favourite team-mate.
From the tough-as-nails Brian Henton at Toleman in Formula 2 and subsequently in F1, to racing legend Mario Andretti at Le Mans in 1996 and Peter ‘Perfect’ Brock at Bathurst the following year, plus racing the Jaguar XJR-14 alongside Martin Brundle in 1991, Warwick’s two-decade career brought him into close quarters with a varied cast list from different eras and backgrounds. And there’s the team-mate that ‘got away’, after Ayrton Senna blocked Warwick’s move to Lotus…
But the man that he picks is a driver best remembered for being parachuted into Ferrari to replace Gilles Villeneuve, earning a bittersweet maiden victory at Hockenheim after team-mate Didier Pironi sustained career-ending injuries in practice.
Warwick had stepped into a top Renault seat for 1984, after both Alain Prost and Eddie Cheever left following the French squad’s frustratingly late defeat to Brabham’s Nelson Piquet. He was joined by Patrick Tambay, already a two-time grand prix winner for Ferrari.
“I’ve always said my best team-mate was Patrick Tambay at Renault,” says Warwick. “He was a gentleman. He was honest and I trusted him. If he said he had two clicks of damper, it was two clicks of damper. He was a great team player and wanted to make the car quicker – he shared things with you. Patrick didn’t create any sort of ‘them and us’ situation.”
Warwick beat Tambay in the drivers’ standings and arguably should have won the Brazilian GP. He scored four podiums, but the RE50’s unreliability limited him to seventh in the championship, even though it remains one of his three favourite racing cars.
Warwick picks out Patrick Tambay as his favourite team-mate from his career in Formula 1, sportscars and touring cars
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“Patrick was also super-quick,” adds the 1992 world sportscar champion. “He was a grand prix winner with Ferrari when he arrived so he was a good benchmark for me. When I got the better of him it was a great confidence booster.
“In terms of speed, my fastest team-mate was Martin Brundle in the Jaguar XJR-14 sportcar in 1991. He definitely kept me on my toes, though I was a little bit older by then.
“With other team-mates, such as Eddie Cheever, things were very fractious, up and down – one minute we’d be mates, the next not. But Patrick and I spent a lot of time together.
“All team-mates bring you something. Whether it’s negative or positive you can still use it.”
There was not a lot either Warwick or Tambay could do in 1985. The RE60 was a step backwards, though Tambay managed two podiums early in the season to outscore Warwick as Renault slumped from fifth to seventh in the constructors’ table before dropping out of F1, only continuing as and engine supplier.
While Tambay found a berth at the Haas Lola squad for 1986, Warwick fell out of F1 and became Jaguar’s world sportscar championship challenger, though he would soon find his way back with Arrows for 1987.
Warwick and Tambay were a strong pairing in 1984, but couldn’t arrest Renault’s downward slide in competitiveness in 1985 before its F1 exit
Photo by: Motorsport Images